Have you ever watched a squirrel and noticed how it spends its day? Squirrels are food gatherers and hoarders. They are driven by instinct towards the habitual gathering and storing of food. Their days are spent briskly skirting from one nut to another.
Gray and fox squirrels hide their food in many different places underground; an action known as scatter hoarding. Other types of squirrels, such as red and pine squirrels, dig shallow pits to hide their food and conceal the pits with leaves. This is what is known as larder hoarding.
Now, how a squirrel remembers exactly where all its food is hidden remains somewhat of a mystery at best, but they seem to eventually find it when they really need it. Some squirrels are really smart and even hide fake nuts to make other animals think that something is buried there – this throws them off track.
Squirrels are not the only “preppers” in the animal kingdom. Wildcats bury small prey, moles stockpile earthworms and foxes store eggs in shallow holes. Even mice are creative in their food storage and scatter seeds in their nests underground for later use.
Humans used to store food
For humans, storing food used to be a way of life. In fact, creative food storage and natural food processing were essential to survival for cultures around the world. In the fridgeless days of the past and before grocery stores, mankind had to work hard for food, preservation and storage. Meat was smoked, beans were strung to dry, root cellars were dug in the ground and cold storage may have included foods stored in buckets in rivers or wells.
Today, not only do we not have to hunt and gather our food if we don’t want to, we don’t have to design creative ways to preserve and store our food either. However, some might say that because we are so “spoiled” with technology and the availability of food, we have also become out of touch with the reality that there could be a crisis.
The day could come when there is a real life food shortage. Whether it stems from an economic crash, a foreign invasion, a civil uprising or a really tough winter storm – food may not alway be as readily available as it is now. Part of planning for an emergency involves thinking about how you are going to feed yourself and your family if food becomes scarce or you can’t leave your home.
Prepping, although trendy, has become a common theme in both rural and cosmopolitan areas, as things in our country and even our world at large seem to be pulling away at the seams a little.
There is a movement and an emphasis being put on becoming more self reliant. From putting in organic gardens, raising chickens to snatching up survival supplies, there is an audible buzz in the air as people prepare for what some are calling the perfect storm of disasters to come.
What to consider
In a crisis, most people will stay put rather than “bugging out.” Because of this, it is important to stockpile resources somewhere in your home. If you have a bug-out location, you will want to keep resources there as well as.
Shopping for survival is not the same as simply multiplying your weekly groceries by a few weeks; it’s about buying storable food that you will not use unless you have an emergency. It is important to understand that this may mean you may have to change your diet slightly to be sure that you actually have something to eat in the event that the grocery stores go dark.
Keep in mind that you may not have electrical power and therefore may lose your fridge and freezer. You will want to think in terms of bulk foods that will deliver the biggest nutritional punch, store/stack easily and have a long shelf life. Start by building up a two-week stockpile of foods and gradually increase to up to a month and beyond. Watch for sales and use coupons when you can to keep your bill down.
Here are seven foods that store well and offer sound nutrition. Consider starting your stockpile with these.
Honey will not go bad. It has been found in a tomb in Egypt, was estimated to have been there for 3,000 years, and was still edible. Color and consistency may change with temperature changes, but the value of the honey remains the same. Honey is not just for eating. It has been used for centuries to treat countless ailments. Hippocrates himself wrote of the “liquid gold” and its medicinal effects.
Liquid honey is best stored in a cool and dry area out of sunlight. Lids should be tight-fitting. Over time the honey will crystallize, but that is ok: you can restore it to a liquid state by simmering the container in warm water. Be sure to never boil honey as this will deplete the nutrients.
You can also get dehydrated or dried honey, which is made from unrefined cane juice and honey. Store granules at temperatures less than 80 degrees F in a low humidity area. To create honey, the crystals can be reconstituted in warm water.
You really can’t go wrong with brown rice. It is cheap, stores well and provides a great bang for your buck. Rice is easy to cook and contains thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate and niacin. You will also get some calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as potassium.
Proper storage of rice will allow you to keep it for a very long time. It is important to keep the rice protected from moisture, heat and insects. Food-grade buckets with tight-fitting lids are your best option. Be sure to store the rice out of direct sunlight and in a dry location.
Raw nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds can last indefinitely when packaged. Find your favorites and keep an ample supply of each on hand. Nuts and seeds offer an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, as well as a valuable source of energy. To best store nuts and seeds, be sure they are in a food-grade container with a tight fitting lid.
Nuts are a nutritious part of any snack or meal. They are high in protein, and high in heart-healthy fats and fiber. In addition, raw nuts have essential nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, sterols and antioxidants.
There are many kinds of nuts and each has its own health-promoting properties. For instance, Brazil nuts provide high quantities of selenium and almonds are an excellent source of calcium.
Walnuts are a super rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that just one small handful of walnuts provides protection against heart disease that is similar to cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Buying in bulk will save a lot of money, so stock up when you can. Its best to keep nuts in the freezer for as long as you can, because they will store for up to a year in cool temperatures.
Hemp seeds are considered a superfood and a nutritional powerhouse. They’re balanced perfectly with a 3-to-1 oil ratio of omega-3 and omega-6, and are also a good source of stearidonic acid and gamma linoleic acid. Pumpkin seeds are high in carotenoids, antioxidants that boost immune activity and increase the body’s ability to fight disease.
They’re also high in omega-3s and contain zinc, which helps to battle inflammation. Pumpkin seeds even contain a high level of phytosterols, which serve to stabilize cholesterol levels and offer an enhanced immune response.
Whole food or raw protein bars
While we don’t recommend packaged food for the most part, high quality raw or whole food protein bars are easy to store and provide a good source of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat.
Most are packed with organic whole foods including nuts, sprouts, fruits and vegetables, and also may contain live probiotics and a good source of fiber. Look for bars that are non-GMO and contain no fillers, colorings or artificial ingredients.
Packaged organic jerky such as bison, salmon or grass fed beef or turkey will keep for a very long time. Buy from a reputable dealer or make your own. Jerky is dried, removing most of the moisture where bacteria likes to grow, and also includes some salt, which adds more preservation.
The high protein content and longevity of jerky make it a popular choice amongst survivalists. The best way to store jerky is in its original vacuum sealed packaging in a cool and dark place. You can also freeze it for longer shelf life.
Real cheese is an excellent source of protein and healthy fat. To keep real cheese without refrigeration, it must be triple dipped in wax. This creates an airtight seal and if done properly, the cheese will keep for years. Even if the it molds a little, it will be only on the surface. You can scrape this part off and the rest of the cheese will still be good.
Beans are a perfect addition to your food storage pantry. They are high in protein and fiber, and if sealed in a food-grade bucket along with a little dried ice they will keep for up to ten years. Another great thing about beans is that they are fairly inexpensive. Buy a few bags of red, black, pinto, lentils, etc. when you go to the store and stock up when they are on sale. Beans store best in dry conditions in an air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid.
Other emergency foods to consider
Here are a few more food ideas to add to your emergency stash.
- Sea salt
- Almond flour
- Oat flour
- Dried oats
- Coconut crystals
- Coconut water
- Coconut oil
- Filtered water
Next time you are on your way to the grocery store for the fourth time in one week, look around for a busy squirrel or two and ask yourself – is there something else you should be thinking of? Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The squirrels get it – do you?
-The Alternative Daily